Johnny Cash, the American singer, songwriter and actor, was known for sorrow, moral suffering and redemption themes in his music. His genre was country, rock and roll, blues, folk and gospel sounds and he is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Cash had issues with drinking and drug abuse. Later he was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease.
Widely regarded as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was a singer-songwriter, actress, and civil rights activist. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Aretha was ranked number one on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list in 2010. Having sold over 75 million records, she is also one of the best-selling musicians ever.
Dionne Warwick is an American singer, TV host, actress, and former FAO Goodwill Ambassador. Warwick was one of the most successful singers between 1955 and 1999, ranking among the 40 biggest hitmakers according to the Billboard Hot 100. 80 of her singles have been featured on Billboard's music charts, making Warwick one of the most-charted female singers in history.
Jeremy Camp is an American singer and songwriter who specializes in Contemporary Christian music and Christian rock genres. Over the years, he has won several awards, such as the GMA Dove Awards and ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Awards. Jeremy Camp's life and career have inspired the 2020 Christian romantic drama film, I Still Believe.
Mahalia Jackson was an American singer. During her career, which spanned four decades, Jackson played a major role in popularizing gospel blues in black churches across the United States. Regarded as one of the 20th century's most influential vocalists, Mahalia Jackson is credited with inspiring rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and soul singing styles.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an American recording artist, guitarist, and singer-songwriter. Characterized by a mixture of electric guitar and spiritual lyrics, Tharpe's music played an influential role in the development of rock and roll. Her music influenced several rock-and-roll musicians like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Chuck Berry. She is often referred to as the Godmother of rock and roll.
Lou Rawls was an American singer, composer, record producer, and actor. Rawls sold over 40 million records during his illustrious career. He was also renowned for his charity work; in 2004, he was honored by the popular philanthropic organization United Negro College Fund for his work with the organization for more than 25 years.
Dee Dee Warwick was a soul singer whose career was largely marred by drug addiction. However, she found success later in her career, recording songs for Private Stock Records and RCA Records. In 1999, she was honored by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation with a Pioneer Award. Warwick is also remembered for being one of the first openly gay singers.
Born to a gospel singer father, CeCe Winans and her nine siblings would often sing at church events. The 12-time Grammy-winning artist soared to fame with her debut solo album, Alone in His Presence. She is also known for her collaborative tracks with her brother BeBe and her friend Whitney Houston.
Trinidadian-American singer-actor Heather Headley is best known for her Tony- and Drama Desk-winning performance in the musical Aida. The Northwestern University drop-out was also part of the theatrical version of Whitney Houston’s movie The Bodyguard and won a Grammy for her gospel album Audience of One.
Initially a schoolteacher, four-time Grammy-winning contemporary gospel singer Yolanda Adams rocked the Billboard charts with her debut full-length single Just As I Am. She was also part of the Tony-nominated team that created the original score of the Broadway musical SpongeBob SquarePants. She has also penned a book on Christian life.
Starting her music career as a background vocalist for singers such as Mariah Carey and George Michael, Kelly Price later made her mark in the industry with albums such as Soul of a Woman and Mirror Mirror. The Grammy-nominated singer is also known for her breast cancer activism.
Contemporary Christian music artist Rich Mullins was also a multi-instrumentalist, with skills in the piano and the guitar. He toured around with the Zion Ministries till he got his first record deal. He died at age 41, in an accident while on his way to a benefit concert.
Italian-American artist Carman performed as part of his mother’s band as a teenager. After becoming a born-again Christian at an Andrae Crouch concert, he gained fame as a contemporary Christian singer. The six-time Dove Award winner later met with a car accident and also suffered from cancer.
Carlton Pearson is an American Christian minister and gospel vocalist whose singing skills have earned him two Stellar Awards and a nomination for the prestigious Dove Award. His life and career have inspired episodes of radio and TV programs like This American Life.
The eldest child of The Staple Singers patriarch, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, Cleotha Staples was part of her family gospel group’s eight US top 40 hits. After facing racism, while they toured around performing, Cleotha and her group ventured into Black protest music. Respect Yourself was one of their Billboard-charting tracks.
From losing her child due to a miscarriage following the recording of the song Gimme Shelter with The Rolling Stones, to getting her legs amputated after a car accident, singer-actor Merry Clayton has been through a lot. The renowned backing vocalist and gospel singer was also featured in an Oscar-winning documentary.
Best known for his Billboard-charting and gold-certified hit When a Man Loves a Woman, Percy Sledge began his music career with The Esquires Combo while working as a nurse. He later scored more hits such as Warm and Tender Love and received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award.
Twelve-time Grammy-winning gospel singer Shirley Caesar is also known as The First Lady of Gospel. She began her music career with The Caravans and later went solo, releasing phenomenal hits such as Faded Rose and I Remember Mama. She also established a non-profit to serve the needy.
Joy Williams established herself as a talented contemporary Christian artist before forming the Grammy-winning folk duo The Civil Wars with John Paul White. She had apparently rejected a recording offer at 14 to enjoy her childhood. She is best known for her chartbusting tracks such as From This Valley.
Best known for his collaborative work with his sister CeCe, BeBe Winans is a Grammy-winning gospel and R&B singer. He is also known for his chartbusting solo tracks such as In Harm's Way and I Wanna Be the Only One. He also released a memoir on close friend Whitney Houston.